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Emily's Ghost by Denise Giardina

Emily's Ghost is the first novel I've read by Denise Giardina, but it's not Giardina's first novel.  Even though the book is based on real life people, it is important to note (and not forget) that this is a novel of historical fiction, and, based on some readings I've done online, great liberties were taken in the portrayal of the characters based on real people and the relationships and dynamics between said characters.  I've also read other online reviews of the novel--some people liked it, others didn't.  One person took extreme issue with the title because it is misleading.  The subtitle is "A Novel of the Bronte Sisters," and I must admit the subtitle did puzzle me a bit because the novel and title clearly focus on Emily Bronte.  I thought the subtitle made it sound as if this might be the first in a series.  Whether this is true or not, I have no idea.  I'm not sure that I would read subsequent novels in this series.

I felt as if this novel was a little slow to start, but once you read through the first several chapters, you get sucked in pretty quickly to the world of the characters and their story.  Anyone who's read a bit about the Bronte sisters and knows their fates can't help but feel a pallor of doom hanging over the family as the story develops.

Emily is the odd sister; she wears no petticoats and her hair wild about her shoulders; she walks alone upon her beloved moors and has no regard for or desire to adhere to the social mores of the day.  She has no time for men and no interest in marrying because she does not wish to give up her freedom.  With an active imagination and inner life, Emily writes poetry and stories and harbors a desire to write a novel.

When her father hires a new, young curate named William Weightman to help out with the church duties, a unexpected and growing friendship blooms between Weightman and Emily.  But death and tragedy stalk the poor inhabitants of Haworth and the Bronte family is not immune when tragedy visits them as well, and Weightman's and Emily's friendship is forced to continue long beyond this life.

Ultimately this is a fascinating portrait of a family and the difficult, complicated dynamics among the sisters.  This leads to a harrowing, heartbreaking, even more tragic end when the literary legacies of two of the sisters is left in the hands of the third sister, who understood the other two least.

This book is available in the library.  Check it out the next time you visit!

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

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